Earlier today I read a poorly worded question where the accepted answer is founded on a couple of serious misconceptions, and I feel that it will be misleading to learners.

I have not provided a link to it because both question and answer are from new contributors and I don't want to "name and shame".

I have downvoted the answer and provided a less misleading answer, but the question's five minutes of fame has passed, so that bad answer is still sitting there.

In this situation, is there any other action that one should take, for example flagging?

  • Unfortunately, nothing other than downvoting. :( Commenting also helps after a downvote, but there's a pretty necessary sting to the downvote. And well, I don't think even posters of those accepted answers can delete them . . .
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 17:34
  • Related: ell.meta.stackexchange.com/q/3095
    – ColleenV
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:16
  • JavaLatte - A flag from the likes of you has never bothered me. You can always flag something you think warrants a hard look from the mod team.
    – J.R. Mod
    Mar 30, 2017 at 1:05

3 Answers 3


Flagging won't do anything. Moderators can't unaccept an answer. In very extreme cases, moderators can delete accepted answers but I can't imagine a time where this would be necessary here. There are many other options.

Users should be smart enough to see an answer that is accepted but low-scoring as a poorer answer than one that is high scoring but not accepted.

You can leave a comment for the OP to let them know that the accepted answer is incorrect but that will only do anything if they are still active on the site and agree with your interpretation.

You can leave a comment on the answer to explain that it is wrong and that other answers should be used instead. You are also welcome to post the answer in the ELL chat room for discussion and, if others agree with you, they may also vote down the answer.

Sometimes I see cases where someone vehemently disagrees on the validity of an answer but that does not always make the answer wrong. English is a funny language and there are occasionally multiple correct answers depending on how you look at things.

As a note, feel free to review the related question on MSE.

It notes a couple of other options that I'm not sure are necessarily appropriate but, for example, you can edit an answer to fix it rather than writing your own. If you truly believe that the accepted answer is doing harm to users, that may be the better option, though be aware that if the person who posted the answer is active, they may not like your edit and may roll it back.... though, if they are active, one would hope that they would accept the possibility that they are incorrect and you could have a dialogue regarding fixing the answer.

  • "You can leave a comment on the answer to explain that it is wrong and that other answers should be used instead." I did that recently, and the person got into an entire discussion with me that resulted in a one-day suspension for me. I have to say that I find it really annoying when this happens. And it would seem that SE has not yet figured out how to deal with this properly....
    – Lambie
    Mar 16, 2019 at 14:17
  • 3
    A person can't get into a discussion alone. Leaving a comment means leave a comment. If they disagree, fine. You don't need to (probably shouldn't) continue the discussion past that.
    – Catija
    Mar 16, 2019 at 14:22
  • I see. Thank you for the enlightenment. It is still my position that SE has not found a way to deal with this issue adequately and fairly. I see it come up all the time.
    – Lambie
    Mar 16, 2019 at 14:26
  • 1
    @Lambie You were not suspended for leaving a single explanatory comment. You'll notice that the constructive comment you left explaining why you disagree with the answer is still there.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 16, 2019 at 15:32
  • @ColleenV I am not talking about that. I am talking in general. You leave a comment and the person comes back with something with which you do not agree again and the comment is outrageously bad or inaccurate. That leaves one with a bad taste. In any event, my comment here stands: It is my position that ELL or ELU have not figured out a way to deal with blatantly incorrect answers. That's because SE has in-built bias re computers, IT and suchlike, probably.That world is much more black and white than language usage.
    – Lambie
    Mar 16, 2019 at 15:36

From experience, there's only one good solution if cajoling and a direct appeal to the OP doesn't work: post a question yourself explaining why the other question posted did not satisfy you and incorporating that into your question. That stops it from being a duplicate. You can then have a say early on in giving feedback on answers, or even write one yourself.

However, it's good to be both reflective and cautious. We might think they're wrong and we're right but be completely wrong ourselves. (Happened to me many times)

  • 1
    I would like to give you two up-votes for mentioning that we should keep an open mind about what is wrong, but I can't, so you get an up-vote and a comment :)
    – ColleenV
    Mar 29, 2017 at 21:55

Downvote the incorrect answer and add a comment to explain why it's wrong. Eventually even "accepted" answers drop down in the list if other, "correct" answers get upvoted.

I frequently see this over in StackOverflow. I can't always trust the accepted answer -- I have much more faith in answers that have a lot of votes.

  • The situation is different with SO for two reasons. First, if you find an answer on SO, you can carry out objective tests to validate it: that's not possible for ELL users. Second, searches for answers on SO are fundamentally different. Hundreds of people hit the same problem, copy the error message text into SO and find the same answer. On ELL, searches are a bit more free-range, so post-five-minutes-of-fame visits to a question are much lower.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 29, 2017 at 16:08
  • @JavaLatte agreed but there's not much else we have the power to do.
    – Andrew
    Mar 29, 2017 at 16:47
  • 6
    I don't think accepted answers ever drop down the list, which is IMHO an annoying bug-feature. A downvoted -5 answer which is accepted stands higher up for most people than one with 10 votes below it, AFAIK. I guess it changes if you change the sorting from "votes" to "activity" or "oldest", but most users don't change defaults anyway. This, by the way, is the very reason people should not accept too rashly.
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 17:16
  • 1
    @M.A.R. The only exception is if the answer is posted by the asker. There's always the "votes" view, though, which lists things in order of voting regardless of accept status.
    – Catija
    Mar 29, 2017 at 18:01
  • @Cat well, I think bad self-answers are not much of a problem. People tend to be really aware of how the community perceives their self-answer.
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:24
  • @M.A.R. I wasn't saying they were... I was merely listing an exception.
    – Catija
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:25
  • @Cat all these features and they're exceptions and exceptions to exceptions . . .
    – M.A.R.
    Mar 29, 2017 at 20:25
  • 2
    Please correct the info in your post. Selected answers don't drop down the lit unless they are the OP's own answer to their own question. Apr 1, 2017 at 21:48

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